Are you ambitious or competitive?

Recently, I was asked whether I consider myself ambitious or competitive. I must admit, I really had to think about which one I was. Could I be both?  I answered ambitious, yet I have always thought of myself as competitive.

What’s the difference? Well, ambitious people lean towards being more intrinsically motivated, while competitive people tend to be more extrinsically motivated. In the organizational development work I have done with my clients, I have found that there is a spectrum, with some people being “super competitive” at everything (e.g. people who are 100% commission), while others are motivated by experiences which resonate with their core values. With a high level of employee disengagement, and people finding less personal satisfaction in their work, it’s important Learning and Development and OD professionals find the intrinsic value in their work and help other people in their organizations discover their intrinsic motivators, regardless of title or compensation level. Here are a few strategies that will help you find intrinsic value in what you do.

Set small meaningful goals

We focus a significant amount of attention on 6 and 12-month reviews, often neglecting the time between those reviews. Setting small achievable goals that have meaning will help you develop a stronger, more ambitious mindset. It could be as simple as improving your relationships with your clients or learning more about your team members beyond their work lives. Whatever goal is chosen, attaching personal meaning to these small goals will help develop a greater sense of accomplishment when it comes to performance review time.

Seek out collaboration opportunities

When we approach challenges from a more ambitious attitude, we leave ourselves open to accepting help and thus, are able to work more collaboratively with others. Essentially, the walls that you might come up against in a hyper-competitive environment start to disappear. Remember the saying, “two heads are better than one?” Well, sometimes we need to refine our competitive mindset and become more ambitious about working together in order to achieve goals.

Discover your curiosity

A lot, I mean a lot has been written about “finding your passion”, and truth be told, sometimes we have more than one passion or we simply don’t have a burning passion but are very curious about many things. Following your curiosity allows you to become more ambitious and discover some natural sparks that might turn into a passion.

Where to get started? Simply ask yourself the question, am I more ambitious or competitive? And whatever your answer is, start to develop goals that have intrinsic value.

All the best in achieving your highest performance,




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